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Department of Architecture

Are there any A level combinations which are especially recommended for those wanting to study Architecture?

No, we take students with a wide range of A levels. We want to see an ability to write essays, a good portfolio of artwork and an interest in science, so a good range of science and arts subjects and maths at GCSE or equivalent. Many students take Art at A level because it helps them to prepare a portfolio but that is not necessary (see below). We take students with virtually any combination of subjects at A level. Systems that allow you to study a wide range of subjects such as the International Baccalaureate are welcomed.

Do I need an essay-based subject at A level to take the Architecture Tripos?

No. The course does involve writing essays so you must be comfortable writing essays but there are no specific A level requirements and we will provide training on essay-writing for those who have not written any essays since GCSE.

Do I need Art at A level?

We require a portfolio of artwork to be submitted on application. This is easier to produce if you are doing Art A level. If you are not offering Art A level we advise you to contact your school art teacher to get help on preparing a portfolio both for submission and for interview. We like to see a portfolio which demonstrates your ability to work in a range of media and in 2D and 3D.

Is Design Technology useful?

Although Design Technology is useful for teaching you skills in making which are included in the Architecture Tripos, in general we find Art is a better preparation for the degree. If you do Design technology then we advise you to contact your school art teacher to get help in preparing a portfolio both for submission and for interview. In particular we would like to see well laid out sheets that are graphically interesting. We want to see a range of media and we want you to produce a portfolio that can demonstrate this. It is also important to make sure you get good photographs of the objects you made.

What makes the Architecture Tripos different from the Design Tripos?

Both the Architecture course and the Design Tripos involve design in the built environment. Both involve designing buildings. The design tripos is more scientifically- based and aims to provide you with a greater understanding of the how technical innovation can be used to help solve issues around climate change and sustainability. Sustainability is still an important issue for the architecture course, but a greater emphasis is placed on the socio-political and cultural challenges facing us today. Both courses place a strong emphasis on design and the share many courses.

Can I change from Architecture or the Design Tripos after the first year?

Students at Cambridge can change to other courses after the first year but it very much depends on whether they have the skills and knowledge to do well on the course they want to change to, so certain changes are not encouraged or possible. Changing to the Design Tripos to Architecture or vice versa is relatively easy in the first year because of number of shared courses but if you wish to change from Architecture to the Design Tripos you need to show sufficient aptitude at maths (to least A level Maths with an A*).

How should I prepare for the interview?

You need to prepare a portfolio. You show interest in the subject so read around it as much as you can. We provide a reading list of recommended texts for you to look at. Look around your local neighbourhood and try to think about it architecturally. Sketch and draw. We are looking for enthusiasm. Reading books is a good way to evidence this. We provide a reading list to help.